D-Day 75 Voyage of Remembrance

The 6th June 2019 marked the 75th anniversary of one of the most remarkable wartime operations of all time, the D-Day Landings. After many years of working with the Royal British Legion to organise tours for World War II veterans, we knew that a historic event as iconic as this, deserved a very special tribute – a Voyage of Remembrance.

With over 240 veterans on board, the MV Boudicca set sail from Dover on the 2nd June. We made three stops before arriving in Le Havre on the 6th June and the reception at every location was truly breathtaking. Thousands of people visited to pay their respects both to the heroic veterans who could attend the memorial services, and to those who could not be there.

The stars of this incredible voyage shone bright from the very start of our journey. From late-night drinks and dancing to emotional recollections of early memories, it became clear to everyone involved that these incredible veterans deserved all the honour and respect they were treated with throughout the voyage.

In the 7 days we spent on board the MV Boudicca, we laughed, we cried and we made memories which will last a lifetime. Being part of this incredible journey to Normandy was an absolute privilege and the experience has touched the hearts of everyone involved here at Arena Travel. We’re so proud to share some of our favourite moments…

Sunday 2nd June – Dover

“The resilience of this generation is quite outstanding they really don’t class themselves as heroes they were just doing their job!  Without them our lives would be so much different! In my eyes they are all heroes!”

CHERYL DUKE – OPERATIONS MANAGER
Wednesday 5th June – Portsmouth

The ship arrived in Portsmouth for an incredible day of commemmorations. Veterans were joined by members of the Armed Forces and VIPs to watch a moving D-Day tribute of wartime stories, speeches, live vintage music & performances.

“It was an honour and privilege to be part of the historic event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D Day Landings. Being with the veterans was something I am never going to forget. A humbling experience.”

JIM JENKINS – TOUR MANAGER

“All of the performers were incredible, followed by speeches from the Queen, Prime Minister, US President, French Prime Minster, Canadian Prime Minister. But as readings were taking place, looking around and seeing the emotions of the veterans as they reminisced was breathtaking.” 

FAYE ANDERSON – TOUR MANAGER

“I heard many stories of what these people lived through. However, there is always one consistent feature. They are not bitter, have a very positive outlook, grateful for the life they have had and consider themselves the lucky ones.”

HOWARD HINES – TOUR MANAGER

“The send off at Portsmouth was amazing! The veterans were quite taken back with all the various salutes, warship escorts and the amazing flypast of a spitfire! Some said wasn’t quite like these 75 years ago!”

CHERYL DUKE – OPERATIONS MANAGER

“As I was speaking to sons of veterans, we sailed through the flotilla of naval ships leaving Portsmouth. The sons were hearing their father’s war stories for the first time. We shared a few tears.”

DECLAN TREANOR – CHAIRMAN

“I heard many stories but this one struck me. I met him on the deck enjoying some sunshine. He joined the army aged 17 and after basic training he joined the forces landing in Normandy and went into action. Unfortunately, his tank was hit and his legs were badly injured. He managed to get out of the tank, his legs badly damaged and burnt which he later realised stopped him bleeding to death! He lost both his legs and was discharged aged 19. He went on to have a full life and although his memories were so strong he was so very positive.”

HOWARD HINES – TOUR MANAGER
Thursday 6th June – Normandy

On arrival in Le Havre, we made our way to Bayeux CWGC Cemetery for the memorial service.

“One of the veterans who relied on his wheelchair was determined to stand up at the two minute silence at Bayeux Cemetery – he struggled to get out of his chair tried several times and his frail body just couldn’t manage…..two of the young British soldiers who were standing on guard went to his aid and helped him up and held him up so he too could pay his respects.  The veteran was so emotional his tears flowed down his face as was the soldiers but he was so grateful to the two young soldiers.”

CHERYL DUKE – OPERATIONS MANAGER

“What a week full of emotions I laughed and cried with these brave veterans.  It was a very humbling experience and one which I will never forget, the privilege of being in the company of the veterans was quite something.”

CHERYL DUKE – OPERATIONS MANAGER
Friday 7th June – Normandy

“It was inspiring to be with such humble gents and ladies who played major roles in D-Day, yet they don’t regard themselves as the heroes; they all said the true heroes are the ones we left behind.”

JUSTINE MARRIAGE – OPERATIONS EXECUTIVE

“The appreciation of the veterans was so lovely and they were all so humbled and wondered what all the fuss was about – them!  They were celebrities in Normandy, as they were telling their stories at the beaches, tourists would gather round to listen, it was very emotional. ”

FAYE ANDERSON – TOUR MANAGER
Sunday 9th June – Dover

“It was a privilege to spend a week with so many veterans and to be able to stop for a natter with them, their wives and families. There are unlikely to be so many veterans together for such a long time again. Their sheer resilience and attitude was humbling and a lesson to us all.”

DECLAN TREANOR – CHAIRMAN

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